Autism Research: March 7, 2014 Week In Review

adn-icon-298x300Smart technology to detect communication delay and autism in infants

Researchers are constantly striving to make diagnosis and detection of developmental delays early on. Now, researchers from Florida State University are screening year old children using a smart technology that shall simultaneously detect delay in communication along with autism. Amy Wetherby, director of FSU is the lead author of the study and hopes to develop methods so that toddlers having autism can be detected and early rigorous treatment can be initiated. The technology is called as Smart ESAC (Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders) and is developed by a company based in Connecticut by the name of Prometheus Research. The technology can work on everyday gadgets like iPad, smart phones and even regular computers.

Ethnicity information ignored in autism studies, study reveals.

As reported this past week by Autism Daily Newscast, A meta study while reviewing other studies has discovered that a whopping 70 percent of studies on autism haven’t recorded any data on the ethnicity of the participants. The study also revealed that less than 50 percent of the studies have analyzed the impact of their data. Published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the study shows how research is partial, incomplete and potentially dangerous. Researchers who analyzed 491 studies dating from 2000 to 2010, found that Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders had the ethnicity data 36% times, Autism had it 34% times and Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disorders had it only 11% times in the studies published by them.

 Developmental delays detectable at merely 12 months in autism siblings

Researchers from the University of California have observed that almost 28 percent children with sibling having an autism spectrum disorder show developmental delays identifiable in social skills, communication, motor and cognitive development, at as early as 12 months of age. The commonest delays were in the social skills like extreme shyness before new people, lesser eye contact and pointing delays. Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,  the study also found that almost half of younger siblings of autism spectrum children develop atypically and 17 percent go on to develop an ASD. The research points towards a need for regular screening of siblings of children with an ASD to enable early detection and rigorous intervention.

 Fruit fly to the rescue of brain injury

 Researchers are now pinning hopes on a protein that helps revering neural injuries in the Fruit fly. Cysteine proteinase-1, the protein responsible for the regeneration of dendrites to conduct information between neurons, in the common fruit fly, could someday be helping reverse neurons damaged in neurodevelopmental disorders like autism. Researchers from Duke University are hopeful about discovering a mammalian equivalent of the protein. Published in Cell Reports, the study was spearheaded by Chay Kuo and his team at the Duke Institute of Brain Sciences. The team is working towards application of this goldmine of information in human brains so as to reverse damaged neurons and re-grow broken communication channels called as dendrites and improve social and communication skills in children having autism spectrum disorders. Autism Daily Newscast first reported the use of fruit flies in autism research back in January.